On 12 April 1961, Yuri Gagarin made the first human flight in space. 12 April 2011 will be the 50th anniversary of this event. This is a notable anniversary in its own right but also offers a significant opportunity to raise the profile of space in the UK.
Although this anniversary has clear significance for human spaceflight, it also offers an excellent opportunity to focus attention on many other space and space-related activities and showcase the UK’s achievements and expertise in these areas. General interest in astronauts is high and is used frequently as powerful tool for education, outreach and public engagement.
In 2011, Gagarin’s role as the first human in space and the fact of the 50th anniversary of his flight will provide a very strong ‘Gagarin hook’ to capture attention which can be subsequently directed in other directions to the benefit of the wider UK space community. YuriGagarin50 will provide a single overarching framework to stimulate and facilitate events and activities throughout the UK which will be arranged and organised by different groups and organisations and matched to local needs and resources.
The aims of YuriGagarin50 are to:
1) Showcase UK and Russian achievements in space science, technology and engineering, highlighting the benefits that these bring.
2) Excite and engage the general public with space and the advancements derived from it, using Gagarin’s flight as the catalyst.
3) Nurture and encourage the next generation of students in STEM subjects to support the UK’s future in science and technology.
4) Promote sustainable collaboration between the UK and Russia in science, technology and culture.
5) Stimulate celebration and recognition of the global significance of Gagarin and his flight - 'the first person in space, the first person to see the Earth as a planet'.